The last big network neutrality battle was a domestic one, but the next one appears to be kicking off in Europe. And this time it won't be limited to words and hypotheticals. According to a Light Reading report from MWC, Teliasonera has apparently gone ahead with a new pricing policy: you can use VoIP on their LTE network, but you have to pay for it. Apparently they have already started to levy such a charge at Yoigo in Spain.
Various European incumbents have been making noises about such things for some time, complaining of revenue lost as cash cows like text messaging and traditional voice are bypassed in favor of VoIP and social media of various types. KPN has been the most vocal of late, but there have been signs from others that the war was about to escalate. There have been
Of course wireless networks have always been less likely to be neutral in any form given the capacity limitations. But the thing about VoIP is that it's really hard to make the bandwidth hog argument, because VoIP isn't that data intensive. If Teliasonera really is going to charge extra for it, it's the gatekeeper argument plain and simple. No more traffic management fig leafs, the gloves may now be off.
And with European business feeling the effects of the recession, regulators may find it more difficult to stop - which is perhaps also part of the plan. I wonder what sort of popular resistance they might meet. The question is, how actively are they going to police this? Is it really that easy to stop all VoIP services? Are they going to inspect encrypted VPN traffic too? And what about all those privacy concerns? Well, at least we won't have to view it all through the eyes of those painful FCC comment procedures this time.
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